Arguably, Mahiaddin’s biggest mistake is trying to stay in power during the emergency rule without putting serious efforts to fix the economy or expedite the vaccination.
Just a day after Prime Minister Mahiaddin alias Muhyiddin announced yet another lame excuse not to reconvene the Parliament, despite King Sultan Abdullah’s decree to do so, eight Srikandi (Women’s Wing) leaders of Mahiaddin’s own party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM / Bersatu) resigned en masse. It was not a coincidence, but a loss of confidence.
The prime minister’s excuse – forming a committee to study the reopening of Parliament – was so childish and ridiculous that even his own mini legion of followers found it hard to justify, forcing them to flee the sinking ship. Dramatically, those women leaders who quit were in the Johor Baru division, the state where Muhyiddin grew up and served as Chief Minister from 1986 to 1995.
The reason cited was a lack of transparency and interference. That’s a polite way to say Mahiaddin’s ship – Malaysian United Indigenous Party – is sinking fast and the eight women leaders wanted to distance from it. The party’s women may not be as politically clever as their big boss, but they were smart enough to know the consequences of disrespecting the Sultanate of Johor.
On June 23, two days after the women quit, the influential Sultan Ibrahim of Johor ordered the State Legislative Assembly to convene on August 12. That leaves Mahiaddin’s plan – hastily packaged Covid-19 National Recovery Plan – in tatters. Based on the plan, the Parliament can only be opened in Phase-3 when daily Coronavirus cases threshold falls below 2,000.
The prime minister estimated that the Phase-3 will kick in only in September or October, just nice for him to announce a sexy Budget 2022, which will give truckloads of cash to voters before he calls for a snap election. He hopes “Cash is King” could pacify the hungry and angry people who wanted to punish his clueless and incompetent regime for mishandling the Covid pandemic.
But the Johor Sultan was not done with the former Johor Chief Minister. The Sultan became the second Malay Ruler after Sultan Selangor to publicly express his displeasure over the vaccination program in the country, which is running at a snail’s pace. Sultan Ibrahim took to his Facebook and complained that only 10% of Johor’s 3.78 million populations have been vaccinated.
That pretty much confirms that the Sultanate of Selangor and Johor were instrumental in rejecting the extension of the State of Emergency during the special meeting on June 16, as well as the Agong (King) decree to reconvene the Parliament as soon as possible. Sultan Ibrahim’s order for the Johor assembly to convene is also a warning to Mahiaddin that ASAP did not mean “as slow as possible”.
With nine of Malaysia’s 13 states, including several led by Mahiaddin’s Perikatan Nasional coalition, have now decided to reopen their state assemblies either in July or August, the premier’s leadership and integrity have practically gone to the dogs. The disobedience against Mahiaddin speaks volumes about the increasing possibility that he will lose power soon.
The Agong might be a constitutional monarch, but it’s a political suicide to be seen as belittling, disrespecting or insulting the Malay Monarch Institution, especially when Muhyiddin’s party depends entirely on the Malay vote bank in the rural areas. Even if there’s a last-minute U-turn to reluctantly reopen the Parliament in August, the damage has been done.
It’s perplexing why the prime minister keeps shooting his own foot. It would be a slap in the face for him if his regime suddenly says the Parliament can reconvene earlier than September. And it would be even worse if the backdoor government waits until Oct to do so when all other state assemblies could meet successfully in July or August without any catastrophe.
There’s no reason for Mahiaddin to be so fearful and paranoid. His appointed backdoor Speaker of Dewan Rakyat (Lower House of Representative) – Azhar Azizan Harun – has been well fed with lobsters that it is impossible any motion of no confidence will be allowed to go through. Besides, all the Barisan Nasional MPs, the biggest ally in the coalition, are too corrupt and cowardly to quit.
Those who live by the sword, die by the sword. And those who betray their friends will eventually be betrayed. The prime minister isn’t afraid of the Oppositions, but rather all the hidden daggers within his own coalition, and even in his own party. The crack was visible after Azmin Ali approved 95,142 dubious companies out of 517,144 companies to operate during the current full lockdown.
Disagreements over the mind-boggling approvals had led to two senior ministers – Ismail Sabri and Azmin Ali – turning on each other, banging tables in an argument. However, the arrogant Azmin, the Minister of International Trade and Industry (MITI) and de facto deputy prime minister, could not care less and has even expanded the list to 128,150 companies.
Azmin’s disrespect for a senior minister from ally UMNO did not go unnoticed. The traitor who had betrayed his own party PKR (Party Keadilan Rakyat or People’s Justice Party) in the infamous “Sheraton Move” coup has gotten big-headed, believing that the prime minister was grooming him to become the country’s youngest prime minister, despite his gay sex scandal.
Arguably, Mahiaddin’s biggest mistake is trying to stay in power during the emergency rule without putting serious efforts to fix the economy or expedite the vaccination, not that his bloated Cabinet of 72 ministers and deputy ministers have any clue how to run the country. Soon, hungry and angry people took to social media to express their anger and frustration – even against the King seen as protecting the regime.
As the prime minister’s popularity drops like a rock with the people, forcing the nine Malay Rulers to intervene, predator UMNO quickly saw the opportunity to seize power. With Mahiaddin out of favour among the monarchs, ambitious Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Hussein had started making his move in preparation to take over from the illegitimate prime minister.
UMNO notorious warlord Nazri Aziz has admitted that he is the “mastermind” behind the latest political manoeuvre to obtain statutory declarations (SDs) from Barisan Nasional MPs in support of Hishammuddin. The lame excuse offered was that the move was not to trigger a change of prime minister, but because UMNO MPs have lost confidence in UMNO president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
Nazri also claimed that there were 25 out of 41 Barisan MPs who signed the SD, leaving Zahid with only 16 MPs. Comically, at the same time, Nazri also argued that the statutory declarations were secured in the event the party is summoned for an audience with the King. Unless the goal is to appoint a new prime minister, exactly why should the monarch meet Hishammuddin?
If Hishammuddin, and Nazri for that matter, is still loyal to PM Mahiaddin, he should get the Barisan MPs to support the prime minister, not him. Even if it’s true that Nazri managed to convince 25 Barisan MPs to overthrow the weak UMNO president, it’s worth to note that 143 out of 191 UMNO divisions had decided not to work with Mahiaddin’s Bersatu in the next general election.
Heck, Hishammuddin Hussein is not even a member of UMNO Supreme Council. In fact, after Barisan Nasional lost in the 2018 General Election, he was the first coward who ran away, refusing to even defend his vice president post in the party. He ran to then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and sucked up to the 96-year-old man to avoid an investigation of his past corruption.
Even if Zahid Hamidi should be replaced, the best man for the job is still UMNO deputy president Mohamad Hasan, definitely not Hishammuddin who shamelessly called Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi the “Big Brother or Taikor”. The naughty rumour is that Hishammuddin will be crowned as the new prime minister and Azmin becomes his deputy.
However, the problem with the Hishammuddin-Azmin tag team is that both individuals do not have full support from their own parties. If UMNO cannot even fully support one of their own kind (Hishammuddin), how can the party accept an outsider like Azmin, who is not only a traitor but also a Muslim who was caught in gay sex, as the deputy prime minister?
To make matters worse, Mahiaddin’s two top lieutenants – Senior Minister Azmin Ali and Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin – are fighting tooth and nail to become the top dog. While both Azmin and Hamzah are traitors, having betrayed their own PKR and UMNO parties respectively, the power-crazy Hamzah considers himself to be more senior and cleverer.
The bad blood between both men actually started after PM Mahiaddin designated Azmin as the de facto deputy prime minister. While the prime minister said when his new Cabinet was formed in March 2020 that all the four senior ministers are “equal”, he had also announced that Azmin Ali will chair Cabinet meetings whenever he is absent. The next in line is Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
This explains why Azmin Ali and Ismail Sabri were caught banging the table in their argument to claim their seniority and territory. At the same time, Azmin and Hamzah do not see eye to eye largely due to jealousy or envy over the unfair distribution of portfolio, positions and power. Hamzah believes he was the brain behind the Sheraton Move, hence deserved the senior position.
Bersatu is clearly divided between the Azmin team and Hamzah camp. If Hishammuddin can team up with Azmin, why can’t Hamzah work with Sabri for the position of prime minister and deputy prime minister? After all, Sabri is one of the UMNO vice presidents while Hamzah was formerly from UMNO. There is more synergy with the Sabri-Hamzah combination than Hishammuddin-Azmin.
More importantly, if UMNO and PAS, assuming their alliance in the glorified “Muafakat Nasional” under the pretext of Malay-unity is still alive, can easily win all the Malay-majority seats to form the next government, exactly why should UMNO give way to Bersatu? With Mahiaddin’s plunging popularity, there’s more reason for UMNO to buy popcorn and see the ship sinks and disintegrates.
Hishammuddin’s only advantage is his blue blood by virtue of him being the son of Hussein Onn, the third Prime Minister of Malaysia, and the grandson of Onn Jaafar, a prominent Malay leader and the founder of UMNO. Other than that, he is as clueless and incompetent as Muhyiddin, and as corrupt and treacherous as his cousin – crooked former PM Najib Razak.
There were also speculations that Azmin is actively looking for greener pastures in preparation to also leave the sinking ship. It was already bad that the still-popular Najib has been criticising and mocking the Perikatan Nasional government every day. It’s now worse that all the Sultans have thrown the poor backdoor prime minister under the bus.
If Azmin can betray his own party, PKR, after having screamed “Reformasi” for more than 20 years, he can surely betray Muhyiddin, his boss of less than two years. If Hamzah can jump ship after UMNO lost the 2018 General Election, he can definitely jump ship back to UMNO again. And if Hishammuddin can conspire with Azmin to betray Pakatan Harapan, both can do it again against Perikatan Nasional.
It will be interesting to see if PKR supremo and de facto Opposition leader – Anwar Ibrahim – will foolishly forgive and accept Azmin back to the party in the name of brotherhood and unity. It might work if Azmin sings enough songs of praise for his former boss. With nowhere to go, the traitor can always cook up truckloads of fairy tales to explain why he had betrayed his former comrades and allies last year. – Finance Twitter